Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off the page

Oprah Winfrey, the megastar who once espouse buying books as a terrific idea and who increased her brand (i.e., profit) by promoting them, has called Kindle her "favorite new gadget."

The "gadget" comes from Amazon, the behemoth that has helped squash independent bookstores by selling books, often times, below the price that independent bookstores can purchase them.

Kindle, selling at the price of about 80 paperback books, is a soul-less plastic gadget that further erodes the case for good books. Oprah's plastic playmate would eliminate books -- designing, printing, binding -- and bookstores. It also would eliminate the jobs connected to each.

Just so Oprah knows. I've found a favorite new gadget too: the "off" button for my TV.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The blessing way

Tony Hillerman, creator of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo police, has died at the age of 83.

Hillerman first introduced Lt. Joe Leaphorn in 1970's The Blessing Way. Leaphorn was an experienced cop who didn't share in the Navajo traditional beliefs, although he had reverence for them. Jim Chee came along in 1978's People of Darkness; he was a Navajo shaman, or "hathaali." The two joined up in Skinwalkers in 1987, the first of many Hillerman bestsellers.

Hillerman will be sorely missed but leaves us with a legacy of more than 30 books.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holmes is where the heart is

With May 22, 2009 designated as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 150th anniversary, Sherlockiana will be the rage for the foreseeable future. Here's a quick look at what's in store (or will be in stores) in coming months.

In stores now: Execution of Sherlock Holmes: And Other New Adventures of the Great Detective by Donald Thomas, is the latest collection of pastiches. The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls is a retelling of the rise of Moriarty, and Holmes' tumbl
e from the famous falls, all told from three different perspectives.
Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles by Pierre Bayard reexamines Holmes' most famous case and finds the master's conclusions wanting. This will come as no surprise to those who have read his Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?: The Mystery Behind the Agatha Christie Mystery, in which the French psychoanalyst and literary scholar comes up with a new solution to that crime also.
Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes, an assemblage of 11 weird tales by the likes of Kim Newman and Barbara Hambly, sees Holmes on illogical ground in this collection of fantasy fiction. Moriarty by John Gardner brings the professor to American shores and on the rise as a vintage villain.

On the way:
Andrew Lycett's The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is reissued in paperback in November.

Sherlock Holmes' Guide to Life by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hits stores in time for the holidays with a collection of quotes from the great detective and illustration from books, stage and screen.
Sherlock Holmes in America, an anthology of new stories edited by Martin H. Greenberg, arrives in March.
Mike Ashley's The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures comes back into print in May. The 1997 Carrol & Graf comes back courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing and the anthology features stories by Peter Tremayne, Edward D. Hoch, Michael Moorcock, Basil Copper and H.R.F. Keating, among others.

Of course, various versions of Doyle's own work will be on display, as well as movie tie-ins and new graphic novels.